September is the favoured time for me and the other half to go on holiday. The kids have gone back to school and the weather is still warm enough to risk venturing to north west France and we were, indeed, very lucky with the weather – it was beautiful.
We took the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo, which takes eleven hours but the sea was like a mill pond and we had a cabin which although small, was perfectly comfortable. We arrived in St Malo at 8.30, in time for breakfast, taken outside in the sunshine in a typical French cafe. Then knowing that we had all day to explore the town, we took our time and found the Fort National, originally constructed by an engineer called Vauban in 1689 to keep the English and other marauders at bay!
St Malo itself, is a very well preserved medieval walled town with ramparts that you can walk all the way around. We took a leisurely stroll around the whole city wall, after an early lunch of crepes and Breton cider which to my amazement was served in cups from a jar! I later found out this is a tradition of Brittany. Our campsite was a forty minute drive from the port (because I knew the other half didn’t want to drive much on holiday) which would have taken less, if we hadn’t missed a turning. But all in all, the transfer was quite easy. We were taken to our holiday home by a young Scots guy on his bicycle, who once we got to our Row, he forgot what number we were and had to go back to the office while we waited. We were happy once we got into our new home; especially when we found out that it had two bathrooms, so one each – pure heaven! The campsite itself was set in huge grounds with a Chateau, (Des Ormes) complete with its own helicopter and golf course. There was also a hotel, which we had a very nice meal in one night, as a treat. There were various eateries and a bar, which we frequented because it had free wifi (not being able to live without social media for a whole week!) which provided “live” entertainment (basically the staff) and live footy, whether you liked it or not. The best night for me down the bar, was the karaoke night; not that I embarrassed myself by participating on the stage, but I did enjoy a good singalong from the comfort of my seat. Des Ormes also boasted an inside swimming pool and an outside pool with a wave machine, which I actually was able to use due to the lovely warm, sunny afternoons.
The main reason I wanted to visit Brittany though, was to go to Le Mont de St Michel. Since I first visited Normandy, 25 years ago, I have wanted to make the trip. And I was not disappointed. A new causeway has been built recently and strange shaped shuttle buses ferry passengers from the main car park across the vast expanse of sand to the mount. I was surprised that people actually live there; I thought it was just a tourist attraction, but no, there’s a whole community of restaurants, shops and homes.
The view from the top of the Abbey, which you pay a small fee for, was stunning – just miles and miles of sand.
Another place we visited was the capital of Brittany, Rennes. It’s best known for its medieval architecture and we spent the whole day exploring the sights with a free map that we got from the tourist office. This is when I think my other half should have been a tour guide because he comes into his own and marches me around, not missing a single landmark! I got a bit narked when I got hungry, then he had to feed and water me before I would carry on!
Some more random sights around Rennes
It wasn’t long before I missed the sea. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel I’m on holiday without the sea? So it was my turn to pick a place to visit the next day. As I knew there was a Saturday market on in Dol de Bretagne (and I do love a French market) we went there in the morning. I was a little upset to see live chickens and other birds in cramped cages for sale. Also rabbits and guinea pigs were available to buy in the market. I didn’t take photos, as I didn’t agree with the practice.
After a very heavy lunch in a kebab, come Indian restaurant, we headed north towards Dinard and finally, the seaside! Dinard has a casino and also hosts a film festival every year, as well as having a rather large harbour. It was lovely to sit in a little promenade bar and sip wine, whilst watching children play in the sand and the locals playing boules.
On the last day, the weather was due to turn; in fact Saturday was also meant to rain but somehow, we escaped it. Jan wanted to visit a working windmill (or Moulin) that we had passed on the way back from Mont St Michel, and a chateau he had found on Google, that was meant to be the largest in Europe. Considering he didn’t want to drive much, he was really getting into it!
Last but not least, we visited the Chateau de Fougeres, where I sampled another Breton delicacy of Gallettes and Breton cider, in a cup again. We spent a few hours here and I have to admit, I was hoping it would be one of those grand chateaux that is home to the filthy rich. Instead it was a proper castle, although in good condition, wasn’t my cup of tea but I humoured him indoors, after all, it was his holiday too!
All good things must come to an end and the next day we made our way towards St Malo for the ferry home on the Brittany ferries ship Bretagne. The return journey was far from smooth and I was glad that we had booked some reclining seats. I was so glad I had a new book to start, so had a good excuse to stay seated, for when I did try to walk about, it was like walking on a waltzer! I don’t get sea sick, luckily, but when I visited the ladies , there was a poor girl who was suffering badly from the Mal de Mer. I offered her some Kwells but she was too far gone!